News / Asia

Pakistan, Russia Intensify Contacts to Improve Ties

Pakistan's Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar, left, holds talks with her Russian counterpart Sergey Lavrov in Islamabad, Pakistan, October 4, 2012.
Pakistan's Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar, left, holds talks with her Russian counterpart Sergey Lavrov in Islamabad, Pakistan, October 4, 2012.
Ayaz Gul
— Pakistan and Russia have held high-level discussions focusing on how to expand their political, economic and military relationship.  But analysts believe Afghanistan is at the center of the intensified diplomacy as both countries are positioning themselves in anticipation of expected withdrawal of most U.S. and NATO forces from Afghanistan by 2014.

Pakistani military chief General Ashfaq Pervez Kayani traveled to Moscow this week while Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov visited Islamabad.

The high-level exchanges took place just days after President Vladimir Putin cancelled his much anticipated trip to Pakistan, which would have been the first visit by a Russian head of the state.  He was supposed to be in the Pakistani capital this week to attend a summit involving Pakistan, Afghanistan, Tajikistan and Russia, which was also postponed.  The cancellation is seen by many as a setback for efforts to improve ties.

However, speaking in Islamabad at the end of their talks Thursday, Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar and her Russian counterpart, Sergei Lavrov both dismissed those suggestions.

“I think the fact that Foreign Minister Lavrov is with us on two-day notice should also be taken as a very positive indication in terms of Russian Federation’s commitment to this relationship,” said Khar.

Timing of warmer relationship

The warming of Islamabad’s ties with Moscow comes amid a persistently strained relationship between Pakistan and the United States.

“We have had a rollercoaster-type relationship with the United States, repeated sanctions against Pakistan, economic sanctions, threats of military sanctions and especially in the last 10 years - this popular anti-U.S. sentiment has grown so much in Pakistan that now I think people of Pakistan would welcome warming up with the Russians,” said Farooq Hameed Khan, a former Pakistani army brigadier.

But many critics are skeptical about recent intensified diplomatic and military exchanges between Pakistan and Russia, in view of a troubled history of bilateral ties.

Pakistan, together with the United States, funded and trained the Afghan Mujahideen who successfully fought against the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan.  That collaboration has remained a major hurdle in efforts to revive ties between Islamabad and Moscow.

Center of diplomacy

The chairman of Pakistani Senate’s Defense Committee, Mushahid Hussain, says that while the stepped up diplomacy signifies a new beginning in Islamabad’s relations with Moscow, Pakistan, Russia and other regional powers are positioning themselves in anticipation of the expected U.S.-NATO withdrawal from war-ravaged Afghanistan in 2014.

“So in that context, our relationship with Russia assumes a certain importance because in the Cold War and after, we could not revive that relationship," said Hussein. "This also has implications for regional economic cooperation because Russia is sitting on top of important oil and gas reserves.  So the relationship is not just going to be political, it’s also going to be economic.”

While in Islamabad, Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov also acknowledged that Afghanistan was a major subject of his talks with Pakistani officials.  He stated that both countries share views on how to resolve the Afghan conflict.   

He emphasized that all proposals with the respect to solving the Afghan conflict must emerge from within that country through a national reconciliation process that involves all stakeholders who abide by the country’s constitution and reject violence.

Pakistan’s role is considered crucial to the Afghan reconciliation process because of its past links with some insurgent groups in Afghanistan, including the Taliban.

The United States has acknowledged the key role Islamabad can play in efforts aimed at bringing Afghan insurgents to the negotiating table.  At the same time, U.S. officials have alleged that elements within the Pakistani military still support the militant Haqqani network in carrying out cross-border raids on American and NATO forces in Afghanistan.

You May Like

Is Air Travel Safe?

Aviation expert says despite tragic losses of Malaysian Airlines flights 370 and 17, industry experienced lowest fatality rate in recorded history last year More

Multimedia 100 Days Later, Nigerian Girls Still Held

Activists holding rallies in Nigeria and several other countries to mark 100th day of captivity for more than 200 schoolgirls being held by Boko Haram More

Chocolate Too Bitter? Swap Sugar for Mushrooms

US food technology company develops fermentation process using mushrooms to reduce bitterness in cocoa beans, believes it will cut sugar content in candy More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
US Carriers Suspend Travel to Israeli
X
Carolyn Presutti
July 23, 2014 1:21 AM
The United States is prohibiting American carriers from flying to Israel's airport in Tel Aviv for 24 hours, because of rising violence between Israel and Hamas militants. The action was announced on Tuesday, after a rocket fired by Hamas militants in the Gaza Strip landed near the airport. As VOA's Carolyn Presutti tells us, international officials soon may have to determine which combat zones are too dangerous for commercial flights.
Video

Video US Carriers Suspend Travel to Israel

The United States is prohibiting American carriers from flying to Israel's airport in Tel Aviv for 24 hours, because of rising violence between Israel and Hamas militants. The action was announced on Tuesday, after a rocket fired by Hamas militants in the Gaza Strip landed near the airport. As VOA's Carolyn Presutti tells us, international officials soon may have to determine which combat zones are too dangerous for commercial flights.
Video

Video NASA Focuses on Earth-Like Planets

For decades, looking for life elsewhere in the universe meant listening for signals that could be from distant civilizations. But recent breakthroughs in space technology refocused some of that effort toward finding planets that may harbor life, even in its primitive form. VOA’s George Putic reports on a recent panel discussion at NASA’s headquarters, in Washington.
Video

Video IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Form

Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video Relic of Saint Draws Catholics Worried About Immigration Issue

A Roman Catholic saint who is a figure of devotion for those crossing the border into the United States is attracting believers concerned about the plight of undocumented immigrants. Mike O'Sullivan reports from Los Angeles, where a relic of Saint Toribio has drawn thousands to local churches.
Video

Video US Awards Medal of Honor for Heroics in Bloodiest of Afghan Battles

U.S. combat troops are withdrawing from Afghanistan, on pace to leave the country by the end of this year. But on Monday, U.S. President Barack Obama took time to honor a soldier whose actions while under fire in Afghanistan earned him the Medal of Honor. VOA's Jeff Seldin has more from the Pentagon.
Video

Video Ukraine Rebels Surrender MH17 Black Boxes

After days of negotiations, a senior separatist leader handed over two black boxes from an airliner downed over eastern Ukraine to Malaysian experts early Tuesday. While on Monday, the U.N. Security Council unanimously demanded that armed groups controlling the crash site allow safe and unrestricted access to the wreckage.
Video

Video In Cambodia, HIV Diagnosis Brings Deadly Shame

Although HIV/AIDS is now a treatable condition, a positive diagnosis is still a life altering experience. In Cambodia, people living with HIV are often disowned by friends, family and the community. This humiliation can be unbearable. We bring you one Cambodian woman’s struggle to overcome a life tragedy and her own HIV positive diagnosis.
Video

Video Nature of Space Exploration Enters New Age

Forty-five years ago this month, the first humans walked on the moon. It was during an era of the space race between the United States and the Soviet Union. World politics have changed since then and -- as Elizabeth Lee reports -- so has the nature of space exploration.

AppleAndroid